Angeles, Sunday, 14th October, 2002
I had the distinct
pleasure, last Friday evening, of taking a wonderful trip down Memory
Lane. There are times, as you well know, that these trips can be nauseating,
leaving us amazed that we at one time actually enjoyed that nonsense.
However, Friday evening's trip was just wonderful.
To be specific,
it was an event entitled "Rugolomania," featuring the music
Pete composed for the Kenton band in the immediate post-war years.
When I was a youngster
in Manchester and first heard the Ted Heath band, which featured Don
Lusher playing "Night Train" and "Lush Slide", I
knew, in an adolesent way that my destiny was to replace Don in the
Heath band. However, some neighborhood ruffians confronted me one day
and made me listen to the music of Stan Kenton, which featured Frank
Rosolino, Milt Bernhart and Kai Winding. This was followed by "okay
'otshot, can you play 't trombone like that?"
I guess you might say they were in my face.
Looking back on
that incident, I can now see what happened. Since puberty had just arrived,
when I heard the wonderful Heath band, my brain took it all in, but
when I heard those Rugolo compositions played with such fire by the
Kenton band another part of my body took over. The majority of the guys
in the band had just come back from World War II and were all feeling
their oats. It all seemed to have come from another planet, and I wanted
to be there and join in.
Over the ensuing
years that type of music has been ridiculed by many, including me, so
much that I attributed my youthful enthusiasm to just that, my youth.
Assuming now that I had completely grown out of it.
Fast forward to
Friday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Chrysral Ballroom to be
precise, (sound grand enough for you). The music was sensational and
I was transported back fifty years to Manchester, listening to those
I now realize that
Pete in the late forties, was Stan Kenton's Billy Strayhorn, and was
way ahead of his time. The unique use of the trumpets, trombones and
saxophones sounded magnificent.
This is the personnel
who all got onto the spirit of the evening and gave Pete, who is now
well into his eighties and somewhat frail, the respect and accolades
he richly deserves. So much so that, in private, John Williams, suggested
a future Carnegie Hall concert.
of the high-points of the evening was "Sorrento" featuring
the robust tenor saxophone of "Vido" Efford.
The complete personnel
Frank Szabo, Buddy Childers, Pete Candoli, Carl Sanders, Steve Hufstetter;
Trombones: Alan Kaplan, Andie Martin, Jack Redman, Maurice Repass,
Saxes: Kim Richmond, Brian Scanlon, Tom Pederson, Bob Efford,
Piano: Herb Mickman; Guitar: Al Viola; Bass: Don
Bagley; Drums: Chuck Flores
I thought you might
enjoy these wonderful stories:
The Tommy Dorsey
Band was playing a one-nighter in Nebraska, when one of the tenor players
collapsed on the bandstand with a life-threatening apperitonitis attack.
Dorsey immediately bemoaned his own luck by crying "how come this
has to happen to me?...Where can we find a replacement in this God-forsaken
place?" At that moment the fourth trumpet player, wishing to please
the red-faced leader, volunteered "We can get Vinnie Paparelli".
Dorsey yelled "Is he any good?" the response was "He's
really a nice guy." Dorsey: "DON'T BRING ME A NICE GUY...BRING
ME A PR...K THAT CAN PLAY"
When I told this
story to George Graham, he told me this one.
John Philip Sousa
announced to the entire Sousa band: "HERBERT L. CLARK MAY BE A
SON OF A ..., BUT HE WILL ALWAYS PLAY FIRST CORNET IN MY BAND!"